At the end of every major World Cup or European Championship those involved with youth development look at the results, what conclusions can be drawn and how they relate to the youth level of the game. In the case of Euro 2012, many coaches and commentators are asking, "How can we get our players to play like Spain does?"
A loud and consistent voice advocating move toward a more player-centered, creative game has been Soccer America's Paul Gardner. He has often bemoaned the direct, 'kick-ball' game and asked coaches to set aside their selfish desire to win today in favor of a greater emphasis on developing skillful players who can think for themselves and eventually lead to greater success for the U.S. on the world stage.
Gardner recently posted a blog entitled, "Spain's brilliant message. Will it be heard in the USA?" He asked the question that we all do when we see a truly special team, "What makes them so good?" Gardner goes on to explain how long Spain has worked to achieve the high level of technical skill and tactical brilliance that they currently possess.
"Spain has always stuck to its style, always played a game based on ball skills and close, on-the-ground passing. It has always been good to watch, but of course that soon became a criticism -- what’s the good of looking good, or “playing pretty,” when you don’t win anything?"
The question Gardner asks next is the most important one, "What happens next? Does the soccer world acknowledge that the Spanish have got it right, and try to play the game the Spanish way?"
At least one coach, Dan Minutillo, has taken action to answer this question. He has created an, "ongoing working group dedicated to improve soccer in the United States resulting in improved performance by our National teams, men and women." The group began as a small group of coaches, players and administrators who attempted to answer the question, "Considering the present state of play around the world evidenced by teams playing in Euro 2012, what can the US soccer community do to advance US soccer in order to ensure that our National teams continue to improve and be competitive against other National teams?"
Minutillo has recently opened the group to comments from anyone who is interested in the topic. I would encourage you to read Gardner's post and then consider Minutillo's question. You can also read the views and comments of others that are passionate about the subject. Add you comments to the discussion and let's see if we can start to move U.S. Soccer down a path to success similar to that of Spain.
Have a great day!